One extraordinarily diverse genus of frogs, Pristimantis, includes 465 recognized species, 205 of them from Colombia. The mountainous terrain of the Andes probably led to the evolution of so many different ground-dwelling frogs, in which the eggs develop directly into tiny baby frogs without going through a tadpole phase.
Males of many frog species advertise for females with distinctive calls produced by vocal sacs or vocal slits. Oddly, although today's new species lacks these structures, males are still able to produce calls consisting of an irregularly pulsed series of clicks.
The new species was found calling from bushes along a roadside at about 2,650 m elevation near Chingaza National Park, roughly 16 km east of Bogotá, Colombia's capital and largest city. Its discovery so close to a metropolitan area of nearly 10 million inhabitants illustrates how much of the planet's biodiversity remains to be discovered.
The name of the new species, Pristimantis dorado, commemorates both its color (dorado means 'golden' in Spanish) and El Dorado, a mythical city of gold eagerly sought for centuries by Spanish conquistadores in South America.
For the experts: A new species of Pristimantis is described from an Andean cloud forest at 2650 m in the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia. Pristimantis dorado sp. nov. is similar to and could be closely related to P. acutirostris, but can be readily distinguished from this latter species by the absence of a tympanic annulus, vocal slits, vocal sac and reticulations on concealed surfaces, and by having a metallic gold iris with a brown horizontal streak. The phylogenetic position of the new species is recovered and we provide its advertisement call, which this species manages to emit despite lacking a vocal sac and vocal slits. This discovery reminds us that despite the extensive research on the alpha-taxonomy of Pristimantis in Colombia, fieldwork in high montane forests continues to yield previously unknown species.